A bit of Ethiopia in Nairobi: Habesha Restaurant

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Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - tibs closeup

You either love it or you don’t – a staple in Ethiopian cuisine, Injera is basically a massive disk of spongy bread where the batter is fermented giving the cuisine its distinctive flavour and flare. Depending on the chef, some ferment it for 3 days and some only for a day, and I’m happy to report, Habesha Ethiopia Restaurant’s Injera is only mildly sour, perfect for Ethiopian food amateurs.

Poignantly named Habesha or Ethiopian, Mr. Tolcha Mammo Gonfa, who runs the modest Nairobi cultural restaurant on Argwings Khodek, will give you a fork and knife if you ask, but tearing the disk of sour and spongy flatbread into small pieces to deposit bites of food into your mouth – is the right way to do it.

Ethiopian cuisine is big on fresh legumes, caramelized onions, garlic, chillies, clarified butter, and traditional spices. Often assumed as an overwhelming spicy and fiery cuisine, truth be told, Ethiopian dishes cover a wide array of flavours and is one of the rare African cuisines that offer a huge delicious selection of vegetarian dishes. Thanks to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, where weekly fasting is promoted, Ethiopian vegetarian dishes are plentiful and are a healthy option for vegans everywhere.

Quick service, affordable, large portions perfect for community dining, lush green backdrop with al fresco seating nestled under vines and trees, and a beautifully and traditionally dressed Ethiopian lady that brews perfect coffee every time – it’s not surprising that most guests feel like they’ve been transported to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia.

Dare I say it: what’s better than Kenyan Nyama Choma? Ethiopian Zilzel Tibs. Pan-fried tender strips of beef with garlic, onions, green chillies and laced with rosemary – this version of grilled meat beats Nyama Choma in flavour and on the healthy meter. The garlic helps stabilize your blood pressure and being pan-fried, one doesn’t have to worry about ingesting the charred bits like with Kenyan grilled meats. Dipped in the special Ethiopian spice mixture Berbere – which includes ground chilli peppers, garlic, ginger, basil, salt, peppercorns and fenugreek – it’s guaranteed that you’ll be a Tibs-Convert in no time.

Perfect for quiet business lunches and affordable meals for groups of friends and family, Habesha Ethiopia Restaurant is definitely as authentic as cultural restaurants can get. It is that, certainly, and so much more.


FoodBlog: Photo Credits Susan Wong 2012 © All rights reserved.



Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - garden Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - tibs
The lovely garden setting and the delicious Tibs!



Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - meat platter
A mix platter of meat dishes and vegetarian sides, including Doro Wot, which is a rich chicken stew, and Gomen, the Ethiopian version of Sukuma Wiki.



Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - veg platter
A mix platter of vegetarian dishes including deliciously stewed lentils, collard greens, homemade cottage cheese with greens, stewed beetroot and Shiro (stewed roasted and powered chickpeas).



Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - cheese and spinach
Here’s a closeup of the homemade cottage cheese and gomen – delicious!



Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - injera
Injera‘s distinctive spongy texture.



Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - coffee ceremony Habesha Restaurant in Nairobi Kenya photographed by Susan Wong 2012 - pouring coffee
A perfect end to a lovely meal – coffee, prepared in the traditional Ethiopian way.



For location details, prices and how you can book online – make sure you check out Eat Out Kenya! Check it out now!
http://www.eatout.co.ke/Habesha-p/habesha.htm



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SUSAN WONG

Susan Wong is the Editor of Capital Lifestyle, a resident photographer, an award-winning journalist, radio presenter, full-time adventurer, long-time admirer of anything edible, and a spicy food athlete at Capital FM.

  • Rbkinyanjui

    Hi Susan,  Thanks for your restaurant reviews.  I enjoy reading them and trying out the best Nairobi cuisine.  Please add the address and contact information for the restaurants so we can call for reservations and locate them easily!  Thanks,  Rosemary

    • Thanks Rosemary for your support.  Please click on the provided link to Eat Out Kenya’s website for further details.

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